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State Library of South Australia begins to archive COVID-19

Education

The library is asking businesses to submit their “COVID-19 signs” to become part of the library’s historical collection.

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The State Library, which began as the South Australian Literary Association in 1834, is collecting signage and objects used by businesses during COVID-19 to ensure its collection will reflect the pandemic for generations to come.

The request is part of their ‘Remember My Story – COVID-19’ project to gather both digital and physical artefacts from the past three months, including photo, video, audio and written word submissions.

Jackie Haas, the manager of digital collections at the State Library, said the material will allow the library to create two platforms: an online collection and a capability for physical exhibitions.

“It will give us an opportunity to see photographs in the future and remember that although things can seem like a bit of a challenge, we come together and come out on the other side,” Haas said.

“We are getting quite a few submissions, lots of really interesting photographs, of young sisters doing their online schooling, or at home doing online lessons, to a beautiful photo of a family wearing homemade masks, and empty beaches and signs that have marked that change in life for everybody with COVID-19.”

State Library Director Geoff Strempel said their digital collections platform is an important part of collecting the history of the state.

“The ability to collect digitally has provided us a massive opportunity to build and preserve our collection with greater immediacy and in turn create a collection that can be utilised not only for future reference but also as content for future exhibitions and education programs across different mediums,” Strempel said.

Haas said the library’s collection development policy helps them assess the best representation of South Australia and what is worth collecting.

“We will be able to do an analysis on what the themes are coming through, which begin with things that are significant for the state, in a social, economic and wellbeing aspect of the pandemic.” Jackie Haas said.

Haas said digital collecting had the added complication of determining the best file type to use.

“Some file types and sizes will be better for long term preservation, if two pieces of content are similar, we would select the one with the better file type.”

“If you compare it to sending someone physical papers, there would be come very fragile pieces of paper that wouldn’t last very long, depending on the content because the content is key.”

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